A pilot scheme to allow journalists access to a small number of family law courts has been announced. The aim is to work towards greater transparency, and thus to rebuild the public's waning trust in the family justice system. Journalistic access will not be allowed to every type of court application, and for now financial cases will be amongst those that are not be opened up to scrutiny.
Not all family practitioners are in favour of transparency, fearing that the threat of a court application could used tactically where there are issues that one party would not want to risk being aired in public.
How interested the British public is truly going to be in the 'run of the mill' cases that the family court deals with day in, day out remains to be seen. Details of the lives of the rich and famous undoubtedly sell more papers than details of how Mr & Mrs Smith of 22 Acacia Avenue live and run their family finances. Transparency may lead to reporting focussing on the type of cases that will sell papers, either because of who is involved, or some unusually salacious case details. That won't give an accurate overview of the whole system. Nonetheless, the success (or otherwise) of the pilot scheme will no doubt point the way to what happens next.